February 4, 2023

Dawson County Journal

Dawson County, Nebraska

DHHS Warns of Social Services Block Grant Scam Targeting Nebraskans

Lincoln, Neb. – The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Children and Family Services (CFS) has been made aware of a scam targeting Nebraskans that involves Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) funds. The scam involves a scammer calling a person claiming that they won a Social Services Block Grant award yet must pay a transaction fee to receive the award. The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) outlined the details of this scam in this public notice to states and territories.

According to the ACF Office of Community Services, the perpetrators of this scheme misrepresent themselves as federal agents and contact individuals claiming they won an SSBG award but must pay a transaction fee to claim the award. In some cases, the targets of the fraudulent activity report having paid out amounts totaling $1000 in credit card payments or more. Most of the individuals affected have incomes that are fixed or limited. Repayment of these debts presents additional hardship to a population already facing difficult circumstances. 

Common characteristics of this scam include:

  • Notices of awards being won may come to the targeted individual via e-mail accounts that have @yahoo.com, @gmail.com, @aol.com or other commercial addresses.
  • The name on the e-mail account may entail an official-sounding title such as AgentJaneDoe@gmail.com.
  • Notices may come via a social media message app such as Facebook Messenger — either via text or call.
  • A complementary notice appears to come from a social media friend to confirm receipt of their winnings or in some cases, refer the targeted individual to another source to begin to claim their winnings.
  • Individuals are asked to purchase credit card gift cards to pay for the alleged SSBG winnings or grant transaction fees.

DHHS encourages Nebraskans that have been targeted by this scam or know someone who has been targeted by this scam, to contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Grants Fraud Hotline at 1-800-447-8477.

Source: Nebraska Regional News